She met Lester Ray Tolliver at a Memphis service station during the summer of 2003. He seemed nice. After phone conversations, she agreed to a date.
They went to see a drive-in movie on Summer Avenue. During the movie Tolliver began rubbing her legs. She asked him to stop but he only became more aggressive and then raped her in the front seat of the car.
Tolliver told his victim he planned to take her to a hotel for more of the same. Thinking quickly, she convinced him to make a stop at a gas station so she could use the restroom. Once inside she locked the door and called police on her cell phone.
Tolliver left the scene before officers arrived.
But he didn’t count on leaving behind DNA evidence that would one day lead to his conviction in the case. It took time, but Tolliver finally was found guilty on Thursday 23, 2021 by a criminal court jury.
The sexual assault forensic kit created from this rape survivor 18 years ago was tested as part of the ongoing Memphis Sexual Assault Kit Task Force project that has tested 12,758 stored rape kits dating from 1976 through 2013. Fewer than half of the stored kits had never been tested, but all were tested by 2019.
Investigations and prosecutions continue into scores of cold cases as the task force finds needed resources. After testing at a specialized DNA lab, results from this kit were entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) databank and a match was made with Tolliver’s DNA.
Tolliver was a previous sex offender according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. Tolliver has prior convictions for attempted rape in 1993 and for sexual battery in 1988 and 1989. Now, 58 years old, he is on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registration as a violent offender and six other rape cases are pending against him.
Assistant DAs Dru Carpenter and Meghan Fowler prosecuted him. After his conviction he remained in jail and will be sentenced at a later date.
Severe beating led to death two years later
in a cold case murder outside an apartment
It was late on a Sunday night August 31, 2014 when someone noticed a man standing over a woman on the ground outside an apartment complex at 1283 Raines Road in south Memphis.
He ran east and a witness called police. They arrived to find Tamiko Montgomery suffering from severe head wounds and was taken to Regional One hospital in extremely critical condition. She died from her critical injuries two years later.
The homicide is a cold case. Someone knows something that could help solve Montgomery’s murder. A call to CrimeStoppers or the Cold Case Bureau could bring justice in this case.
See cases from our “cold case files” here.